Pixie dust for Operation Fetch
Organized by: Natasja Martin
June 01, 2017
All you need is faith, trust and a little pixie dust! I will be running my third 10k at Disneyland on May 13 and I will be raising money for Operation Fetch.
Operation Fetch provides educational support and awareness for PTSD, veteran suicide, service dogs, and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. Lon Hodge and his service dog Gander are the heart and soul of Operation Fetch.
Lon Hodge is a medically retired, 100% disabled veteran and Army military enlisted officer who has beaten the survival odds, not only during his military career, but also throughout his life. He now uses his life to be of service to others. They travel the USA together and Lon is the most selfless man I know. He will tend to others first before thinking about himself. It is a truly noble cause worth supporting. Gander was recently awarded service dog of the year at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.
I will make sure that I will spread awareness during my weekend in Anaheim and wear a themed t-shirt :-)
More background about Lon & Gander:
During junior high school, Lon's father was critically wounded in Vietnam and later died from his wounds. Lon's mother subsequently fell into a deep depression and, as a result, Lon spent two years at Father Flanagan's Boys Town in Nebraska. Lon then returned to Pueblo, Colorado, to graduate from high school. While in the service (1973-1976 and 1977-1981), his Medical Corp duties entailed the primary responsibility for physically and psychologically wounded soldiers. He was also an instructor at the Academy of Health Sciences and a Field Placement Supervisor for medical personnel who were counseling and treating wounded personnel at Brooke Army Medical Center. Lon's injuries were received stateside and, in 1981, he received an honorable discharge. Lon’s academic career at Baylor, North Carolina and Maryland was quite a success. He was a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Literature, and he became a nationally recognized poet with the publication of his book of poetry entitled "Fishing For The Moon.” However, as the accolades poured in, the physical injuries and PTSD soon took control of his life. Severe panic attacks, agoraphobia, elevated heart rate, night terrors, and excessive prescription drug treatment provided by the VA resulted in years of stress and anxiety.
Along came a Labradoodle named Gander! Gander, who became Lon’s service dog, is a survivor himself. Gander was saved from a Colorado high kill shelter and was sent to a prison program in Canon City, Colorado, for obedience training. He was then rescued and trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. It was there, in September 2012, that Lon and Gander became a team. They have not spent one day apart since then and Lon credits Gander with literally saving his life.
This inseparable team is on a mission. Lon also promotes “Planned Acts of Community Kindness” or PACKS. One such PACK raised funds to provide adaptive equipment for a four-year-old boy who is paralyzed. This specialized harness allows him to walk assisted by an adult for the first time in his life! In April 2016, another PACK provided an expense paid trip for a Wisconsin man, who is in poor health, to finally say goodbye to his father who had passed away. Because the father had served in the Army, Lon arranged a special honor guard and flag ceremony at Tacoma National Cemetery which gave the son closure while paying his respects.
Lon tirelessly reflects the epitome of a hero and a survivor.